Construction site security: tips from our building site expert

Construction site crime is a huge problem. Recent estimates put annual losses to crime and vandalism as high as £800m each year, which aligns with the statistic that a staggering 92% of UK construction site managers report having been affected by crime. Even with insurance cover, such incidents result in project delays and cashflow problems...and can adversely impact the morale of your workforce.

Loss from site crime encompasses a wide spectrum of attacks: everything from the graffiti and broken glass of casual vandalism to 'thieve-u-like' snatches of expensive capital equipment carried out by organised criminals.

20 years ago, our best response to these problems was a night watchman with an Alsatian. Security has come a long way since those days. If you're new to site management, you owe it to yourself to find out about those developments.

Background checks

Your site security journey begins with a trip to the HR department. If your project follows industry norms by relying on contract staff, you'll need to carry out background checks on every single employee.

The good news? Those checks are easier to carry out than they used to be, thanks to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. CSCS smartcards were designed to provide casual staff with a means of proving their credentials, but they also provide a handy way of spotting the chancers.

Of course, your personnel department's involvement won't stop with CSCS checks. You'll also need them to provide formal training to your newly-vetted workforce in the mitigation of security risks and the importance of reporting crime. They can also deliver 'standing orders' like ensuring that keys are removed from vehicles and machinery when they're left unattended, so spend some time working out your ‘messaging’.

Fences and lockers

Your next visit should be to the people who'll be responsible for physical security - your estates and facilities departments.

Their work will commence with the installation of panel, chainlink or other sturdy fencing around the site perimeter, along with strong gates and tamper-resistant padlocks. A good fence is a great deterrent to thieves, and as a bonus it will help your team to focus on security issues.

You should also brief the estates team on the storage facilities you want to provide: lockable chests, toolboxes and materials stores. Your employees will be more likely to look after your gear if you help them look after their own.

Shine A Light

Good site lighting is almost as effective as a strong fence in deterring thieves. The last few years have seen rapid developments in the fields of LED lighting, motion sensors, and infra-red.

The same is doubly true if you want to install a CCTV system. With the move from tape to digital, CCTV has become cheaper and more accessible, while offering higher-quality results. If you have any staff with experience in this new field, it's a great idea to involve them in your site setup.

But if, like most companies, you're new to the fields of lighting and A/V, we'd strongly recommend that you talk to a specialist to discuss all your options.

Serial numbers

Who’s responsible for recording the serial numbers of your capital equipment? It's likely to be the same estates team who installed the fence. Given the extent of pilfering on Britain's sites, this is a mission-critical operation...and, while local copies of your serial number data will be useful if things go wrong, it will be much better if you can share those numbers nationally or even further afield.

There've been several asset database schemes over the years, but over the past few years TER-Europe's online database has emerged as the clear leader. We'd recommend the scheme to anyone trying to run a site.

Security guards

Once all of the safeguards listed above are in place, the last step is to hire security guards.

You could hire your own security personnel, but that's likely to be expensive. Besides, an in-house hire is a long-term commitment. It’s always better working with a specialist company, especially if - like RG Security - they've been accepted onto the 'approved contractor' scheme operated by the UK government's Security Industry Authority. Thanks to the SIA’s stringent training requirements, staffing via RG Security gives you peace of mind plus maximum flexibility. Contact RG today to discuss your requirements.